My wife and I, we’re tired and poor and boring. We both work minimum wage jobs a places we hate. She works as a bank teller at Chase. She always comments on the grotesque attitudes of the other bank tellers. One time, two of the bank tellers had sex right behind the counter. No one knew except her, but she was worried a customer would somehow see through the counter. I told her no on has x-ray vision. She shrugged and told me I didn’t know everything. I worked as a manger at a Rite Aid. I just got health benefits and now I can take allergy medicine. So I guess I don’t hate my job as much as she hates her job. I don’t really talk to my co-workers.
It’s our own fault we have crappy jobs. We were in love once, the kind of teenage love that seems to rival everything, that seems more important than anything. She didn’t want me to go to college; she still had a year of high school left. So I got a GED, and so did she. We smoked a lot of pot and wondered how Pink Floyd came up with their songs. I taught her how to play bass and she taught me how to take care of cats.
But on day’s when we both work hard and come home at night at the same time and eat frozen dinners off of paper plates, we watch reality TV. We watch people that drink themselves into comas, we watch people that spend 25,000 dollars on sunglasses and sometimes we even watch people that love every single little material thing that comes into their life, they stock pile it, all of it, all their memories. We wonder if these people go home and watch their episodes with their friends and family and when every one else leaves if they cried and ate ice cream and realized the whole world was judging them.
On night’s when I come home late from work, I find the wife crying on the couch. I usually come home late because I went out for a drink with my best friend Kyle. The wife hates Kyle, mostly because he actually finished high school and went to college and didn’t get married when he was seventeen. He owns a bar now, whenever I get home my cotton shirt smells like the bar. I know she knows where I’ve been, bar scents absorb themselves into cheap cotton very easily. But she just sits on the couch and cries while people throw back shots, fall down and wonder where all their friends are.
Sometimes the TV shows effect how the rest of the night goes. If we watch a TV show about a bunch of young people drinking, flirting, having fun-not worrying. The wife gets real upset. We’ll go to bed and she won’t even let me touch her. In the morning she’ll make the coffee too bitter and leave without saying goodbye. I feel bad on days like these, so I go in the bathroom and make sure that the cap is on her toothpaste and her shampoo bottles aren’t leaking and her curling iron is off. She rushes out of the house on days we watch people our age have fun of TV. Sometimes I think it’s my fault.
But sometimes we watch shows about people that hoard or have addictions or have addictions to hoarding. On those nights, my wife lets me touch her. All over, I touch every body part; we have a good time. Even better then when we were seventeen. We’ve been married almost ten years, now and the nights we watch TV shows about how badly people’s lives have tail spun out of control is the best sex we ever have. On mornings after we watch shows about people’s lives crumbling she takes her time getting ready. She lets me watch her get ready, she’s always naked. One time she burned her chest with her curling iron.
One night we were watching a documentary about people who had extreme medical surgeries. One was about an eight hundred pound man; the other was about a woman who had gotten her face ruined by acid. When it ended and both patients were happy and at home, my wife began to cry. “There are never any happy endings in these reality TV shows”, she lit a cigarette and took a deep breath. I was confused because she always said we couldn’t smoke in the house. She looks like she is about to cry, and that makes me want to cry, even though I am a man and not supposed to cry.
And I don’t know quite how to comfort her. Because she is right; that man will go home and eat himself to death again, and that woman will be ridiculed for the rest of her life and her prosthetic nose might fall off. And what if her prosthetic nose falls off at a restaurant? And some videotapes it and puts it on YouTube?
“Then we shouldn’t watch them anymore.”
With tears in her eyes my wife looked at me and let them dribble down her face. Large tracks of black watery mascara goo leaked down her cheeks. But she was still beautiful. She crawled into my lap and held my face in her hands.
“I love you”
Then we went to bed. It’s been a week and she’s let me touch her every other night, even though we don’t watch reality TV anymore.
Tess Pfeifle likes writing, b-horror movies and peach smoothies. If you’d like to know more about her or read more of her writing visit her website, www.tesspfeifle.weebly.com
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